I love Ann Gabhart's prose.
When I start one of her books, it's like time-traveling right back to the era that she so richly describes.
When you begin one of her stories, you know your heart is in good hands. You may get tears in your eyes as you read, you may feel the character's fear, yet you know that you will also feel their love for each other and feel God's love for all of His children, and you will find hope right along with the characters.
In this case, I was transported to a Shaker village during the War Between the States, and my new friends were Heather Lou, Gideon, and Sophrena.
Heather is a young war bride expecting her first baby. For the last two years this woman has followed her soldier husband from camp to camp, washing uniforms for the privilege of being near her beloved. Heather doesn't want to leave Gideon, but love for their unborn child convinces them that she should return to her family for her confinement.
All Gideon wants is for the war to end; to be reunited with his Heather Lou. The thought that she is safe and sheltered, away from the war, convinces him that they made the right choice.
Until they meet again, Gideon's memories of Heather and her prayers for him will sustain him.
And Sophrena, Heather's great-aunt, who has lived a simple, serene life with the Shakers for the last decades. Sophrena doesn't know why, but recently she has felt a dullness in her spirit that she can't whirl away even in the worship dances. In the midst of that she has also felt a longing for the things she revoked long ago: certain things of the world.
All of these longings and loves converge when Heather Lou finds herself seeking help from her Great Aunt.
Ann Gabhart alternates chapters between these three characters, building tension and anticipation as we follow the stories. We are waiting for Heather's child to be born, knowing that Gideon will soon face battle, and watching for Sophrena to decide where God truly wants her to be.
All this makes for one of the best Christmas novels I have read.
Most definitely a book to read as we enter the Christmas season, a book to curl up with on a cold afternoon when there's a snow flurry outside the window, with a cat on your knees and a cup of good Chai tea close at hand.
Thank you Revell for my review copy!
*Available November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.*
Ann H. Gabhart grew up on a farm in Kentucky. By the time she was ten she knew she wanted to be a
writer. She's published over twenty novels. She and her husband have three children and nine
grandchildren. She still lives on a farm not far from where she grew up. She loves playing with her
grandkids, walking with her dog, reading and, of course, writing. Her Shaker books, set in her fictional
Shaker village of Harmony Hill in the 1800's.